Srikakulam: In a village called Kedaripuram, located around 110kms from Srikakulam town, nearly 1,500 villagers get together every year to worship Mahatma Gandhi— the father of the nation.
The festival having started in 1947, has gone on for nearly seven decades now.
This year too, this village in the interior of the Andhra-Odisha border in Srikakulam district worshipped Gandhi as their beloved God as they ushered in the Kharif season on August 2.
The residents of Kedaripuram celebrate the ‘Gandhemma Sambaram’ festival by offering puja to a portrait of the Mahatma every year.
The festival is celebrated in the beginning of Sravana Masam— an auspicious month in the Telugu calendar.
The villagers offer fruits, prasadams and new clothes as part of the rituals. They also perform bhajans on the occasion. Speaking to TOI, K Mutyala Naidu, a village elder said that the community believes in offering prayers to the Mahatma ahead of the Kharif season. They believe that their crops will be out of harm’s way if the worship Mahatma Gandhi . P Suryanarayana, a farmer said,“Even though he was a man, we worship him as a God. We want his blessings. We go to nearby Palasa to get what we need for the festival.
An agriculture officer informed TOI that the village has 300 houses and nearly 1,500 people live here. Nearly 80 per cent of the population is engaged in agriculture and cultivates nearly 400 acres of the village in Palasa mandal.
“Kapus form nearly 90% of the population in Kedaripuram. These people have been strong followers of Gandhi for decades. The present generation follows the tradition of their ancestors,” a police official said. The ritual worship of Mahatma Gandhi began in 1947. All communities born in the village participate in the festivities.